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Full text of "My Country And My People"

278          MY   COUNTRY   AND    MY   PEOPLE

eves have been opened to the form and rhythm inherent in
every animal's body and limbs. Every animal body has a
harmony and beauty of its own, a harmony which grows
directly from its vital functions, especially the functions of
movement. The hairy legs and tall body of the draught-horse
are as much a form of beauty as the more neatly formed outline
of the racing-horse. That harmony exists in the outline of the
swift, springing greyhound, as it exists also in that of the hairy
Irish terrier, whose head and limbs end almost in square
formations—strikingly represented in Chinese calligraphy by
the blunt li-shu style (current in the Han Dynasty and elevated
into an art by Teng Shih-ju of the Gh'ing Dynasty).

The important thing to observe is that these plant and
animal forms are beautiful because of their suggestion of
movement. Consider a sprig of plum blossoms. How care-
lessly beautiful and artfully irregular it is! To understand the
beauty of that sprig fully, artistically, is to understand the
underlying principle of Animism and of Chinese art. The
sprig, even when deprived of its blossoms, is beautiful because it
lives, because it expresses a living impulse to grow. The outline
of every tree expresses a rhythm resulting from certain organic
impulses, the impulse to grow and reach out toward the sun-
shine, the impulse to maintain its equilibrium, and the necessity
of resisting the movement of the wind. Every tree is beautiful
because it suggests these impulses, and particularly because
it suggests a movement toward somewhere, a stretching toward
something. It has not tried to be beautiful. It has only wanted
to live. Yet the result is something perfectly harmonious and
immensely satisfying.

Nor does nature artificially invest the greyhound with an
abstract beauty apart from its functions: the high arch of the
greyhound's body and the connecting line between its bodyand
its hind legs are built for swiftness, and they are beautiful be-
cause they suggest swiftness. Yet from this harmonious function
emerges a harmonious form. The softness of the cat's move-
ments results in the softness of its contour^ and even the
jogged squatting outline of a bulldog has a beauty of force
dl its own. This is the explanation of nature's infinite richness
>f patterns, which are always harmonious> always rhythmic.